Photo by: Reuters
Emerging domestic natural gas and helium producer Renergen has developed a new device, the Renergen Cryo-Vacc, which is said to simplify the logistics of moving vaccines at temperatures of between -70 °C and -150 °C for periods of up to 30 days, regardless of ambient conditions, without the need for any power supply.
The company has filed for the patent rights to its design and is calling on collaborators to use the design in the large-scale manufacture of these devices, to assist in the deployment of ultralow-temperature vaccines, such as the recently announced Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine.
The Renergen Cryo-Vacc has been initially designed to transport a minimum of 100 doses, while keeping the vaccine at the required cooling rate of -70 °C.
The device is made of aluminium, providing durability and a long lifespan for end-users. A reservoir has been built into the device, which is filled with liquid helium, the coldest liquid available globally.
This liquid is then boiled and released over a 30-day period to maintain the temperature at a constant level. Liquid helium is also 20% of the density of liquid nitrogen, making the device light to carry, with an overall weight of less than 20 kg.
Commenting on the new development, Renergen MD and CEO Stefano Marani explains that the company first attempted to find a solution using liquid nitrogen, given that it is significantly cheaper. But with that option, one only had four days to get the payload to its destination for the same weight.
“It became very clear that, for delivery into remote areas and developing economies, helium was the only solution for the Renergen Cryo-Vacc. Fortunately, given helium’s specific heat characteristics, it simplified the design substantially and will make the manufacture of the devices not only quicker but [also] more cost-effective.”
“As an emerging helium producer, we are proud to have developed this innovative concept, at a time when the world is seeking solutions on how to overcome the Covid-19 pandemic,” he notes.
“Defeating it will take collaboration,” Marani adds, noting that it is for this reason that the company is inviting partners with the resources to roll-out large-scale manufacture of the Renergen Cryo-Vacc and with global logistics companies that are able to transport medical supplies.
Importantly, with the devices in circulation, transportation can be completed in a cost-effective manner, given the relatively small size and weight of the devices. Depending on where the helium is sourced, the operating cost of the device should be under $0.07 per dose per day for the smallest device.
The device works to transport vaccines with liquid nitrogen too, but the vaccines must reach their intended destination within four days, unless the user is willing to increase the weight by an additional 15 kg, which could stretch the timeline to around 20 days, but at significantly higher air-freight costs.